Throughout history the way learners acquire the foreign languages and being able to reproduce it orally and in a written form, were and still are a topic of research. As Laufer M.(2000: 58) points out “Theories of the nature of language, and of how people learn languages, have always been of concern not only to those engaged in theoretical study, but also to languages teachers and materials writers”.
So, in my view since the Grammar Translation Method, one method that favors the English language acquisition effectively is the Communicative Approach because it takes as a main factor the reality of communication, how it takes place outside the classroom and also, the reality of learners as they exist outside and inside the classroom. Learners acquire and develop the language through different communicative activities that allow them mainly to improve the oral skills. Also, I as a teacher should assume a daily responsibility for determining and responding to learner language needs playing the role of a facilitator of the content and allowing my students to be the center of the learning process, being the main focus of the attention.
As to my learners language needs, through the revision of my students’ files and their observation in class, I found out that the most of my students needs are academic. One of the reasons is that they are not native English speakers and the other is that most of them had never been exposed to the language before, so the lack of linguistic skills in English is highly evident.
Another language need is related to cultural background and this is a relevant issue that should be taken in account, there is a girl from Japan who is afraid of speaking in front of the class. As it is known, teaching languages is not as easy as it seems to be; because in this learning cycle, not only skills are involved, but also sociocultural aspects. According to Byram, et al (-: 4) it has been widely recognized in the language teaching profession that learners need not just knowledge and skill in the grammar of a language but also the ability to use the language in socially and culturally appropriate ways.
It was a challenge from the beginning to get that particular student involved in every lesson, so I thought about different ways for getting to know her better. I did some research about the Japanese culture, family behavior, the way they express their emotions and feelings and I learned that the more I know about where my students come from, the easier my job will be.
Additionally, regarding students’ needs it was also a challenge to work with a student who has ADHD which demanded more differentiation strategies to be used and collaboration with the learning support teacher in charge of this student.
From my overall experience of planning and preparing the lesson, an aspect that facilitates active learning, and motivates and encourages the students towards the language acquisition is identifying students’ learning styles. Students process and learn new information in different ways, so, while designing the lesson and choosing the materials, I need to take this in mind.
In this sense, as I have visual learners in class, I have selected some DVDs resources related to the Unit topics. Using those DVD in class makes learning more interesting, dynamic and motivating. They allow learners to develop listening skills, to get new and relevant vocabulary and to reinforce grammatical structures.
Also, by means of some communicative activities like role plays, dialogues, dramatizations and games planned as part of the Unit, the students will acquire and develop not only the linguistic skills, but also their creativity because peer interaction increases motivation towards the language’s acquisition.
Another activity that I planned and carried out that my students enjoyed very much was to invite my students’ parents to make oral presentations in class about typical food and traditional recipes according to their home countries. From my view, this activity highly enhances the self-esteem of the kids and generates more motivation towards the acquisition of the language and their spontaneous participation in class. Students learn from this activity that if their parents are able to communicate their ideas with no fear of making mistakes, they can actively participate without thinking in mistakes or errors because what matters is communicating and improving daily the target language. In this sense, the classroom atmosphere is a significant issue that I took into account when I was planning the learning sessions, because it could favor or not learners’ acquisition of the language. It is important for me to create an encouraging classroom atmosphere where my students talk freely, sharing their own experiences without feeling frightened because of their pronunciation, nor proper use of grammatical structures or vocabulary. I, as a teacher, should provide any arrangements in class facilitating learners to feel nice and ready for every enjoyable English lesson.
To conclude, it can be said that the successfully acquirement of the target language does not depend only on a particular method or approach the educators follow to teach the content, but also on many factors, such as the teachers’ experience, background and knowledge regarding the language, the sociocultural context and the students’ needs, interest and learning styles. Additionally, in a successful English lesson, both students and teachers should learn from each other in a happy atmosphere that facilitate teachers come closer to students and know them better as students and as individual persons.